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KBK update for Saturday, 1st January

2021 knowledge round-up

Another strange year has come and gone, with disappointingly no huge breakthrough to match those of 2019 (and Cortron have failed to come through, as it seemed most likely they would: this is something I’ll have to tackle alone). With that said, the collection of outstanding mysteries has been steadily chipped away, and general knowledge is steadily rising.

As part of my ongoing process of documenting the electronics within keyboards and the encoding process in particular, there are now dedicated pages for each of MOS/LSI single-chip keyboard encoders (commenced in December 2020 and expanded significantly in 2021), microcontroller-based encoders and the related but rather different keyboard controllers that go inside the computer instead of the keyboard. The encoding and output page has been continually improved throughout the year as new information comes to light.

Datanetics history has seen a significant boost. A chance discovery of Jamie Fingal, daughter of the late Datanetics president Marshall James Styll, as well as more information from Meryl Miller, has allowed Datanetics history to be expanded considerably. 2021 has seen the discovery of several varieties of their original batch-fabricated array keyboards, and Meryl has explained their origin in NCR’s CRAM 2 memory storage system. The first photograph of a calculator with a batch-fabricated keyboard has come to light, from Meryl’s private collection.

Other highlights of 2021 include:

The following remain my top outstanding mysteries, and maybe somehow 2022 will bring some answers:

There is also a long list of unseen switches: switches known from patents or advertisements that have yet to show up in any keyboard. This list includes a number of exotic types, in particular the final fling of the self-encoding bounce-free school of thought before matrix scan took over the industry completely in the early 70s.

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